New BHS owner expands review to cover 50 shops

 

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The Independent Online

More than 50 BHS branches are now under review after the retailer’s new owner drastically expanded its examination of its real estateportfolio.

As revealed by The Independent last week, the retail property specialist Jackson Criss was hired by the new owner just a day after it paid Sir Philip Green just £1 for the loss-making business. Its brief was to examine five BHS shops, fuelling fears about closures and job cuts.

It emerged yesterday that the project has grown significantly. Agents Charles Palmer Property and Vail Williams will now offer advice alongside Jackson Criss, looking at a total of 51 shops.

The increase will only heighten speculation about the long-term future of the department store group.

BHS employs about 11,000 people in 171 stores across the UK and it was confirmed on 12 March that it had been bought by a group called Retail Acquisitions.

A BHS spokesman said that as with any owner, options would be looked at for the property portfolio and business structure.

He said: “This does not mean that any leases that may be under review will be sold, and certainly does not mean that store closure is the only option. Options could also include sub-letting under-utilised space or renegotiating payment terms.”

BHS stores in Barnstaple, Cambridge, Croydon, Dundee, Portsmouth, Stevenage and Wood Green in north London are among those under review.

However, the flagship shop on London’s Oxford Street, which property agents have dubbed the jewel in the crown, is not on the list. Experts estimate that if the West End lease was put up for sale, it could expect offers above £20m.

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